Media Release, 14 March 2012

Australians will be among the first worldwide to join Oscar-winning Hollywood director and explorer James Cameron on his historic journey to discover what lies at the ocean’s deepest point eleven kilometres below the surface in the Mariana Trench.

Telstra’s technology will connect the world to images of James Cameron’s DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition, a joint scientific project by Cameron, the National Geographic Society and Rolex to conduct deep-ocean research and exploration, in a submersible built in Australia.

James Cameron said: "It's critical to have a really good telecommunications partner on this type of expedition. We want this to be something the public can embrace as it happens, so we went to Telstra for a solution to get images out to the world. Telstra solved the problem for us."

Telstra Chief Marketing Officer Mark Buckman, said Telstra was excited to be on the journey to the ocean’s depths, bringing the ‘moon mission’ of our time to the world, just as in 1969 the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC), which later became part of what is now Telstra, helped bring Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” to the world.

“Connecting Australians to historic world events is in our DNA,” Mr Buckman said.

“From the Apollo 11 moon landing, to the heights of Mount Everest and now the depths of the Mariana Trench, we’re proud of our heritage connecting Australians to these exciting events.

“Aussies can find out more about the expedition in an exclusive video interview with James Cameron on Telstra’s YouTube channel youtube.com/telstra or on their Telstra T-Box. This will include footage of the Mermaid Sapphire being kitted out for the expedition on Sydney Harbour, a rare glimpse into the world of the crew as they prepared for this historic challenge.

“So all Australians can share in the excitement of James Cameron’s DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition, we will run an exclusive video blog with frequent updates from the ship’s physician and author Dr Joe MacInnis on youtube.com/telstra.

“Joe will share his insights on the Australians on board the ship as they help prepare for the first dive, the thrill of finally facing the challenge they’ve spent more than seven years preparing for and the scientific discoveries they will make.

“Telstra’s technology will also create a ‘global classroom’ simultaneously linking students from schools in Perth, Australia and Malibu, California via a live three-way connection directly to the boat so they can share first-hand in the excitement of scientific discovery.”

The global expedition has a strong Australian connection. The submersible was built in Leichhardt, Sydney, has Aussie crew members on board including the ship’s doctor, and test dives were conducted in Jervis Bay on the New South Wales South Coast. The expedition embarked from Sydney Harbour.

As Global Telecommunications Partner, Telstra’s technology is providing the 70-strong crew with connectivity to the outside world, connectivity that’s critical to enabling the smooth running of the expedition. This includes:

  • Satellite phones;
  • Wireless Internet and VoIP Telephone Communications System with International Direct Dial; and
  • Full High Definition video broadcast transmission system, enabling live transmission of footage and images on demand.

About the satellite:

  • The on-ship satellite dish is a specialised marine grade dish, the cover ‘housing dome’ measuring 3.65 metres in diameter.
  • The Radome antenna houses a transmit and receive dish, measuring 2.4 metres in diameter. With enclosed High Power Amplifier and Air-conditioning Unit, it also houses an automatic stabilising system suitable for Sea-to-Land communication.
  • The receiving satellite dish is at Telstra’s International Teleport facility located in Sydney where the dish size is 18 metres in diameter.